OAS observer mission releases preliminary findings

ZIZ NEWSROOM, Basseterre, July 13, 2011 – The OAS observer mission that was in Nevis to oversee the elections has issued a preliminary statement on its findings. In it the mission makes recommendations which it says will strengthen the electoral process.

Addressing the issue of names being taken off of the voters list the mission reiterates its 2010 recommendation to “conduct a house-to-house verification process before the next election and a claims and objections period in which the voters list is properly adjusted to reflect the current reality of voter numbers and residency.”

Moreover, in light of the recent controversy resulting from the weaknesses of the procedure of objections and claims, the mission recommends a serious review of the notification timeframe regarding registration claims.

The mission also recommends a general review of the legal framework to consolidate and clarify the electoral regulations, including further definition of the legal criteria for residency at the local and federal levels.

The mission also suggests that incorporating civil society groups in discussions would further contribute to the definition of equitable and legitimate electoral procedures and processes.

Issues suggested for discussion include the implications of Diaspora voting, the establishment of mechanisms to promote female candidacies, and the criteria for legal residency and voter registration.

The mission recommends that the electoral authorities publish a manual regarding the specific procedures, calendar, and responsibilities of all stakeholders, increased coordination with local media to ensure the accuracy of information provided to the public, and a general public sensitization campaign regarding the intricacies of the electoral calendar and procedures.

The mission also wishes to congratulate the people of Nevis for their high turnout and peaceful exercise of their right to vote during this election. Likewise, the mission notes with satisfaction the dedication and commitment of the poll workers to ensure a smooth process during Election Day, and the improved distribution of voters through polling stations in accordance with the OAS observations made in 2010.

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